City of Ottawa Developer Ambassadors: Taxpayer funded Uber lobbyists

City of Ottawa Developer Ambassadors: Taxpayer funded Uber lobbyists
Posted on June 4, 2015 | Neil Thomson | Written on June 4, 2015
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Letter type:
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Publisher

Publisher:
Ottawa Citizen

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

This is in response to the Ottawa Citizen article:  Developers to get Ambassadors within planning department published June 1, 2015.

 

As President of the Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association, my initial reaction to Jan Harder’s “client relationship leaders” (CLR) project is that it puts communities on notice that the City has now tilted the planning process entirely in favor of Developers.

If I understand correctly (and typical of the City, this is first the public has heard of this initiative), the City will be providing what amounts to Uber lobbyists, one per developer (at taxpayer expense) who not only expedite developer’s applications, but can override City planning and engineering staff if someone at City Hall (which strongly suggests ultimately the Mayor) wants to push through a project that staff don’t like.

That these CLR’s are “volunteers” who don’t require planning or engineering qualifications or experience, suggest a PMO office type goon squad which we have heard so much about in recent years as a way of controlling unruly backbenchers in the Federal Parliament.

That “that communities have ambassadors and they’re called councillors” ignores that while CLRs will be working full time on a developer’s application, councillors work 24/7 on many issues and have only a few hours a week to spend on development.

Developers currently already have direct access to “planners assigned to oversee particular applications [who] are often generous with their time” [ to Developers] throughout the process. Councillors, like the public, only see the staff report on a development application a few days before planning committee, by which time any decision by staff is effectively a fait accompli. At best, if (and only if) they are on the planning committee, councillors can say yeah or nay.

As to the claim that “… the relationship between community associations and the city is strong”; whatever good will existed has been wiped out by not only this proposal, but the mindset that thought that this was the right direction for City planning.

About The Author

Current President: Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association. Member of FCA. Part of Community Panel for the 2013 City of Ottawa Official Plan Review.

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